$50K reward offered in boy's 1999 disappearance

EL DORADO, Kan. (AP) - An anonymous donor has put up a $50,000 cash reward toward solving the 1999 disappearance of an 11-year-old southeast Kansas boy whose adoptive parents never reported him missing.

Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet announced the reward Friday, identifying the donor only as someone who "would like to see some closure for the family" of Adam Joseph Herrman, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Adam's disappearance from the family's Towanda mobile home only came to light in late 2008, when his older, adoptive sister shared concerns about him with law enforcement. His whereabouts remain unknown, and Herzet said the last tip came in months ago.

"We've not had any contact with anyone who's called and said, `Hey I'm Adam Joseph Herrman, I want to come talk to you,"' Herzet said at a news conference. "It's an open case here in Butler County, and we're still trying to get to where we need to be to on getting some closure -- finding him, his whereabouts, his remains, whatever it may be."

He added: "We're hoping with a reward, this might make somebody call."

Authorities have treated the case as a homicide investigation as well as a search for a missing person.

No one has been charged in Adam's disappearance.

His adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, were charged with collecting $52,800 in state adoption subsidies between the time he vanished and July 2005.

In 2011, they pleaded guilty to an amended charge of wrongly receiving nearly $15,500 in state adoption subsidies. Both were sentenced to several months in jail and ordered to pay restitution.

Relatives said Valerie Herrman told them after the disappearance that Adam, who was being home-schooled, had been returned to state custody. The parents later told authorities he had run away and that they didn't report him missing because they feared losing custody of him and other children.

Herzet was the lead investigator on the case before becoming sheriff in 2011. He said Friday he remains determined to solve the case.

"A lot of my detectives have pictures of Adam hanging in their office. He's not going to go away, and the case isn't going to go away," Herzet said. "Every time we get a lead or something comes up, one of the detectives assigned to the case jumps right on it, and we follow it through to the very end."

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